how to read and understand poetry in 5 easy steps

Download How to Read and Understand Poetry in 5 Easy Steps

Post on 06-May-2015




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Most students I ask, say they hate poetry. Why? It doesn't make sense. Why not make it easier to understand for them?


  • 1.WHAT IS POETRY ANYWAY? Meaning: what makes it poetry and not something else? Answer: Canned Soup?

2. Sometimes the job of the poem is to come closer to saying what cannot be said in other forms of writing, to suggest an experience, idea, or feeling that you can know but not entirely express in any direct or literal way. How does it evoke that feeling? Word and line arrangements Sounds and rhythms Meanings of words (literal and figurative language) 3. Examining a Poem1. Before reading a poem there are a few things you can do: Look at the title Examine its shape (lines, line breaks, and the way lines are broken into groups= stanzas) And the length of lines (dense- on a physical level) Does it look like other poems by this writer? 4. Reading a Poem Before anything else, you gotta read it. Poetry is meant to be heard, so use your voice and your ears! 5. How do you read a poem? Lines Meaning Sound Rhythm Breath Typography/Font styles But what if its not so obvious?? 6. What if its not so obvious? End-stopped lineslines that end with punctuation Lineation- grammar, breath, and line breaks Reading to the end of a line or following breath. 7. What if I dont have a good ear for this? Tricks in punctuation marks 8. Reading Aloud! 9. Harlem by Langston HughesWhat happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore And then run? Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over like a syrupy sweet?Maybe it just sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode? 10. Peeling back the layers 11. 2. WHO IS THE SPEAKER? 12. Self-reliance3. THEME AND TONEChange/growthIdentity 13. 4. STYLEWHAT THE WRITER IS 14. Examining Style IMAGERY 5 Senses Figurative Language Concrete/Abstract Connotation/Denotation Symbolism Punctuation/syntax capitalization 15. Examining 5. Sound/Form Line Breaks Broken mid-clause (aka. enjambment) End-stopped (pauses or caesuras) First and last words Rhyme/rhythm Stanza length/breaks Repetition Traditional Forms (ballad, sestina, sonnet, etc.) 16. Lets look at the whole meaning 17. Here are a few general questions that you might ask when approaching a poem for the first time: " " " " " " " " " " " " " "Who is the speaker? What circumstances gave rise to the poem? What situation is presented? Who or what is the audience? What is the tone? What form, if any, does the poem take? How is form related to content? Is sound an important, active element of the poem? Does the poem spring from an identifiable historical moment? Does the poem speak from a specific culture? Does the poem have its own vernacular? Does the poem use imagery to achieve a particular effect? What kind of figurative language, if any, does the poem use? If the poem is a question, what is the answer? 18. QUESTIONS?


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